Penguins fight off Jets, win in shootout
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — With one in the Eastern Conference and one in the West, the Penguins and Jets will meet only once more this season.
Which is an absolute shame for fans who enjoy entertaining hockey games.
Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win for the Penguins at MTS Centre featured a little bit of everything: a blown two-goal lead, plenty of fights and 102 penalty minutes, a couple of gorgeous saves from newly extended goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and a three-point night from Brandon Sutter.
“That was a fun game,” Sutter said. “That was two good teams going at it.”
Literally, in some instances.
Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres and Craig Adams drew fighting majors. Zach Sill got tangled up with Jacob Trouba after running into Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and easily could have been given one.
Steve Downie was involved in several altercations and finished with a game-high 22 penalty minutes, including a pair of 10-minute misconducts.
In between trips to and from the penalty box, Trouba and Evander Kane scored to tie it 3-3.
Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby struck in the shootout for the Penguins — their first of the season — and Fleury got revenge on Kane, stopping him to finalize the team’s sixth consecutive win.
“I was glad he was coming out for the shootout so I could see him again,” Fleury said. “I just tried to be patient, and when he came close enough, I got my stick on it.”
The Penguins (9-2-1), whose penalty-killing unit went 4 for 4 to extend their perfect streak to 34, have won five straight over the Jets (7-6-1) and eight of the past 10.
Malkin’s season-opening point streak came to a close at 11. It is the fourth-longest such streak of his career.
The Penguins finished without a goal on five power-play chances, marking only the third game this season where they didn’t score with the man-advantage.
“From an entertainment point of view, it had physical play,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. “It had scoring chances. It had special teams. The penalty kill on both sides was very good. I thought the game had a little bit of everything.”
While the power play came up empty, the Penguins did provide plenty of punch with their fists, starting with Bortuzzo decking Blake Wheeler early in the first and then obliging him for a fight.
Despres, who stuck up for Fleury in his scrap, pulled the Penguins out of a 1-0 deficit when he scored his first of the season with a hard shot from the point.
Sutter, who last got three points in a game Feb. 11, 2010, scored his second goal in as many games to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead by snapping a shot past Pavelec from the inner-edge of the right circle.
Downie made it 3-1 when he jumped out of the penalty box and flipped a backhander past Pavelec. That prompted yet another scrum when Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien rode Downie hard into the boards.
“It was an emotional game, a lot of tension for teams that don’t see each other that much,” Crosby said. “The crowd was loud and into it. Being on the road and getting a character win like that, that’s a big win.”